With 4 million people living in the country, Croatia is considered to be a rather small country and isn't a part of any top 20 most populated countries list. But, no matter that, Croatia is a country of rich history, centuries-old culture, warm people with world-known reception, and natural heritage that is cherished to this day such as the beautiful sea, and supplies of drinkable water. Also, besides that, it is a home and a birthplace of unbelievable individuals who have used their knowledge, inventions, and discoveries to change the world and everyday life, but also the future of the whole mankind. No matter how apocalyptic it sounds, but without the genius minds of Nikola Tesla, Ruđer Bošković, or Faust Vrančić, it would be hard to imagine modern everyday life.
For many an unknown fact, but a large number of world-famous celebrities have ancestors that emigrated from Croatia to all over the world in the past, mostly to Australia, South America, and the United States of America. So, it isn't a big surprise that the world-known explorer, seaman, and trader Marco Polo, was born on the Korčula island! Many today's actors, singers, or sportsmen are a part of the world-wide Croatian diaspora like Stipe Miočić, the late Mira Furlan, the inventor of a zeppelin, David Schwartz, John Malkovich, Rudy Tomjanovich, Bill Belichik, and even the legendary Diego Maradona!
Croatians as a nation are probably famous for their homemade invention - the tie. Today a vital part of the everyday look of average middle-aged men, once used as a fashion accessory of Croatian soldiers and a form of identifying yourself at the battlefield. That is why those legions were called the Kravat-regiments which traditions were kept to today's time as one of the most representative forms of Croatian cultural and social heritage and city attractions of Zagreb, the countries capital.
The tie-wearing tradition has its background in the 17.-th century and was spread from Croatia to France and the United Kingdom, and because of its symbolic importance, the Croatian Parliament ( Sabor) announced the 18th of October as the Tie Day! For history lovers, it is good to mention that the island of Vis was the only neutral island in WWII where the Allies could land and equip care-free all to the end of the war. The remains can be seen in the architecture and the monuments of historic cities on the island of Vis is full of! But just visiting any of the 6 individual regions of Croatia is an incredible story of history, art, culture and people mentality that is nourished for centuries.
For the ones that don't know a lot about Croatian history, we bring to you a list of most famous Croatians you probably haven't heard of or are well known, but we will discover some new, unexplored details that are going to make you fall in love with Croatia even more!
SCIENTISTS AND INVENTORS
Probably the most famous name connected with Croatia which inventions have revolutionized the world that would be unimaginable today is Nikola Tesla. Born in Smiljan next to Gospić in the gographic region of Lika, Nikola Tesla has astounded the world with his inventions from the early ages showing his genius mind and proving that he is one step ahead of his generation and that his inventions will transform the perception of the world that existed until then.
An electrical engineer and scientist, Tesla is meritorious for the discovery of alternating current that made the production of electrical energy a much easier and mass-reachable process. That is the reason why Šibenik in 1895. became the first city of all European cities that was charged on Tesla's alternating current making it the first city in the world with public lighting! He set the foundations of the development of today's wireless devices and communication systems (radio technology), while unfortunately, a large number of his ideas were left unfinished, due to lack of money, support, or time. If it wasn"t for Tesla, maybe the biggest invention of modern times, the Internet wouldn"t be available. Just imagine a life with Internet to think about the greatness of this Croatian-born inventor.
To honor this big inventor, the mark of magnetic induction carries his name, of the biggest production makers and innovators in the automobile industry is called Tesla, and he is loved equally by the city people in the USA, Croatia, and the surrounding countries. Besides that, his birthplace has become of main tourist attraction after the Memorial center in Smiljan was opened. There you can meet the genius mind of Nikola Tesla, walk through his life, meet his inventions, ideas, and accomplishments, and discover the size and legacy that Nikola Tesla left to the world in his heritage. When we talk about greatness, we can only say that he left more than 700 patents in his legacy and earned the nickname of the man that invented the 20.-th century!
If you are planning on visiting Smiljan close to Gospić, you will get the meet the beauties of Lika, visit the Plitvice lakes, or arrive at the sea that is just an hour away!
Ruđer Bošković is one of the most famous scientists, philosophers, astronomists, physicists, mathematicians who originated from Dubrovnik, which proud legacy of the Dubrovnik Republic has given numerous world known celebrities that have influenced the local, but also the wolds literature, art, and science. That is the reason why Dubrovnik is one of the most popular tourist Croatian cities every year!
He was famous for his works in the field of cartography, civil engineering, and architecture what was his field of interest in the early days. He explored, tested, and even criticized Newton's laws of thermodynamics, explored the ancient ruins, the movement of planets, made poetry, written philosophy books connecting them to the laws of natural science leaving behind a rich opus that is explored to today's time.
He will be rembered the most for his accomplishments in the astronomy field in the research on the structure of matter. His discoveries were a couple of centuries ahead of his time that has set the foundations of research of the biggest scientist of all time like Albert Einstein. Atom model, the theories of collecting force, the mechanical movement of mattery, theory of the movement of astronomical objects, optic laws and inventions, testings the laws of geophysics are just some of the fields in which Bošković left his trace, and started the revolution of discoveries and inventions that set foundations for today's research.
That is why one of the most prestigious institutes in Zagreb carries his name proudly! That is the place where young scientists carry on the tradition of his prestigious work that started more than 300 years ago. To visit the birthplace of this genius, look for accommodation in Dubrovnik or the nearby area for a low price!
One of the inventors and scientists that changed and modernized the world around him is Slavoljub Penkala. A Pole born in Slovakia, he lived and invented in Zagreb most of his life. He has made between 70 and 80 patents that cover a wide research area. But, in the world, he will be remembered as the creator of the first rotating pen and fountain pen that changed the way of writing in the world. That is why the name "penkala" and pen has a word root for pencils in almost all of the world languages.
Besides that, Penkala is one of the aviating pioneers in Croatia. He was involved in the creation of the first plane with two wings in Croatia and was a part of the first flight over Zagreb. Besides his scientific work, Penkala wanted to make his inventions for mass productive usage. So he patented the gramophonic needle, a thermos bottle, a batterie anode, rotating toothbrush, laundry detergent, rheumatism medicine, and much more.
He also established numerous factories in Croatia and even today there is one that is still working and carrying his name proudly. Penkala is one of Croatian biggest inventors and is buried in the Legends Alley on the cemetery in Zagreb called Mirogoj.
Every adrenaline and adventure lover has a parachute in his standard equipment or is searching for this type of activity while he or she is on vacation. It is an interesting fact that the same one was invented more than 400 years ago and that his inventor comes from Croatia! His name is Faust Vrančić!
This writer, scientist, and engineer was born and buried in Šibenik and is considered to be one the most distinguished inventors of the Renaissance on the passing from the 16. to the 17. century. In his capital work, Machina Novae, introduced to the world more than 56 technical inventions, projects, and constructions. Besides the parachute, he explained his idea of leaning bridges that will be accepted and implemented 200 years later.
Besides the mentioned, he presented his work on solar energy, sea pollution, the model of the parachute which he tested in Venice, the wind turbine, war machines, fortification systems, and cable transport.
Also, he is the author of a 5-language dictionary, and his Croatian version is considered to be the first printed dictionary on 130 pages and more than 5 thousand words! That is why there is a Memorial center in Prvić right next to Šibenik dedicated to him, and accommodation in the nearby area guarantees you an unforgettable summer filled with new experiences, knowledge, and memories!
ART AND LITERATURE
Ivan Meštrović is considered one of the most known and most productive statue makers of the 20. century. He left behind more than 1000 sculptures all around the world and was so good they even compared him to Michelangelo himself.
Born in Otavice, he moved to Split since he was a self-learned sculptor. Later he moves to Paris where he became famous and recognized, especially after his exhibit in London in 1915. After WWII, he moves to the USA where he gets the American nationality that was personally given to him by the president himself, and becomes the first living artsmen that got his exhibit in New York in 1947! He taught at Syracuse University where he left the statues of Perzefona and Job that is a part of a beautiful entrance to this world-known university!
Some of his most famous works include the statue of Gregory of Nin in three Croatian cities Split, Varaždin, and Nin, the statue of Winner in Belgrade, the Indian statue in Chicago, the statue of Nikola Tesla in Zagreb, Belgrade, and on the Niagara falls, the History of Croatians statue, and the statue of Joseph Juraj Strossmayer in Zagreb. All of his other brilliant work can be seen in the Meštrović gallery in Split and the Meštrović atelier in Zagreb.
Besides sculpturing, Meštrović was interested in writing and architecture and is considered one of the biggest artists of modern times. He worked in Rome, London, Paris, Geneve, and the USA and that is why there are so many sculptures located all around the world that make Croatia so proud of him!
One of the most famous and world-known authors in the 20.-the century is Ivo Andrić, the winner of the Nobel prize for literature in 1961. Born in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Andrić spent most of his life in Zagreb and Croatia, but his birthplace was always an inspiration for which he was awarded the biggest acknowledgment in the world of literature!
Besides the writing, Andrić was a world-known diplomate with missions in the Vatican, Romania, Italy, and Austria and even was the Minister of External Affairs and an ambassador in Germany. One of his most famous works is the Chronicles of Travnik, Nemiri, Prokleta Avlija, Lica, Zapisi o Goji, and Most na Drini Ćupriji as his capital work published in 1945.
In his works, he paints Bosnia and Herzegovina as a place where different cultures meet, describes the war and between-wars period, determines and describes the biggest social differences of his time, and gives the psychological structural analysis of individuals that lived in his time. Also, he gave the money of the Nobel prize to rebuild the book fond of BiH and his works have been translated to the most of world-known languages.
Besides in the world of literature and art, Croatia can be proud of a large number of world-known actors, producents, and other workers and artists in the world of the "seventh art". Actors like Rade Šerbedžija and Goran Višnjić acted in Hollywood, and older actors like Boris Dvornik, Ivo Gregurević, Ivica Vidović, and Špiro Guberina are the most famous representatives of local cinematography.
But, the person who left the most significant trace in the world of movie-making is the late Branko Lusting. This movie producer is the only person from this area that won two Oscars. He won the first in 1994 for the movie "The Schindler's list", and the second for the movie "Gladiator" in 2001 that are considered a true movie work of arts and one of the best movies ever.
Besides the mentioned movies, Lustig was in the production crew of many blockbusters such as the American Gangster, Hanibal, Black Hawk Down, The Kingdom of Heaven, and many more. He is also the first person from the movie world, and only the second from the art world after Vladimir Nazor was given the honorary doctorate of the University of Zagreb. He also was given the honorary medal of duke Trpimir, he is the honorary citizen of his native Osijek in the D1 region of Croatia, and the Holocaust museum in Los Angeles, and his opus lives forever in the breathtaking blockbuster movies that are one of the best in the history of films art.
Croatians often love to call themselves a sports nation. And when you take into consideration the number of medals from the biggest competitions, the abundance of top athletes that are one of the best in their category, level of quality of domestic leagues with top HDTV reception, investment in sports and new, young faces that are just arriving, it is safe to say that the nickname isn't justified.
A sportswoman that affirms this rule is Janica Kostelić, our most famous and successful sportswoman ever. With her brother Ivica and father Ante, they make up the most successful skiing family in the history of sports. Janica is also considered one of the best, if not the best skier in history!
She has won numerous medals, small and big crystal globes and with 4 gold Olympic medals and 2 silver ones, she is the most victorius ski racer of the winter Olympic games ever. She won 3 gold and 1 silver medal in 2002, two more medals in 2006, and soon after she retired from sports. Also, she won the world cup 2001, 2003, and 2006. Brother Ivica hasn't been any less triumphant. With 4 Olympic medals, one small and one big crystal globe, it can be said that he also filled the trophy room with medals and trophies.
Kostelić family are a truly positive example of sports spirit, teamwork, and hard training to accomplish the highest goals and are proof that no obstacle has to get in the way of getting the best results just as how they have written Croatia on the skiing map of the world!
Blanka Vlašić is one of top Croatia's top sportswoman (and sportsmen), and with Sandra Perković, is considered the best Croatian athlete in history. She has won a lot of awards and medals: gold in the world athlete competition, world indoor sports championship, and the world championship.
Her success was crowned with two Olympic medals. She won her first one in 2008. where she was second and then in 2016. where she won the bronze medal. The result would be even better if she hadn't missed out on the Olympics in 2012 due to injury.
This two-time world champion holds the second-best result in the history of the sport with a jump over 2.08 meters. She also holds the national record and is considered one of the best athletes, and in the top 3 high jump women ever. After an incredible year, she was awarded the title of the world's best athlete in 2010!
As the first-mentioned Janica, Blanka also comes from a Croatian sports family. Her mother and father were professionals who stayed in the world of sports even after retiring, and her younger brother Nikola is a perspective young hope of Croatian football with a big and perspective future ahead of him!
Croatia is a country known for a long and successful tennis tradition and top tennis players who won numerous titles in individual and group competitions. Also, the country won the Davis Cup in 2005 and 2018 and was the runner-up in 2016. In the male and female competition and all of the categories, Croatia has at least one of the "big four" tournaments won.
In the women's competition, the one and only who has managed to do it was Iva Majoli who won the Roland Garros in 1997. The first male that won it was Goran Ivanišević, who wrote a true sports "Cinderella" story in 2001. In that year, with over 30 on his back, multiple shoulder injuries, and a long pause from tennis because of what he fell on the 125 place, he managed to do the impossible and won the biggest tournament - Wimbledon!
That made Goran the lowest ranged winner of the tournament and the only tennis player that won it on an invitation or the "wildcard". He won it in the fourth try after he lost finals to Agassi and Sampras. But, lady luck smiled in 2001, and he managed to win it spectacularly and made his dreams into a reality.
During his career, Goran won 21 ATP titles and was the world's number two at some point. He won two bronze Olympic medals - in individual and group category on the Olympic games in 1992 in Barcelona. There he carried the Croatian flag which was a special moment for the country since it was the first official appearance of the Republic of Croatia on a sports event as an independent country. And under his mentorship, Croatia won its second tournament, the US Open in 2014 that was won by Marin Čilić.
So besides a great playing career, Ivanišević has a big coaching career, sports hall in Umag named after him where is held the only ATP series tournament in Croatia, and recently, he became the first Croatian chosen in the Tennis hall of fame which is a true recognition of everything he has done to the world of sports from the start until today!
Croatia - a land of innovators, sports, high art, culture, and thousand years old history!
It was hard to choose just a couple of names while making this list and give space to the mentioned individuals. They did it in different periods and fields, but they made Croatia proud and world known and recognized. Since the list is endless, we will name some of the innovations not mentioned in the text:
The medicine Sumamed from PLIVA,
Apaurin by Franjo Kajfež,
The sea compass and dynamo by Kepilah,
The wolfram light bulb by Franjo Hanaman,
Wireless battery re-charge by Marin Soljačić,
Dactyloscopy or the DNA analysis method by Ivan Vučetić,
Mp3 player by Tomislav Uzelac,
Torpedo of Ivan Lupis
The Maglite torches and batteries
Besides them, it is worth mentioning that the world-known seamen and trader Marco Polo was born in Korčula, two Nobel chemistry prizes came to Croatia (Prelog and Ružička), one Oscar to Dušan Vukotić for the best-animated movie called "Surrogate". Ivan Gundulić, Marko Marulić, Marin Getaldić, Nikola Šubić Zrinski, Josip Jelačić, Josip Juraj Strossmayer, Marija Jurić Zagorska, Juraj Julije Klović, Andrija Mohorovičić, Marija Jurić Zagorka, Zlata Bartl, or the "Teta Vegeta" are just some of many names that could end up on the list as well.
Croatia has a lot to offer. From history, culture, art, science, innovations, discoveries from the field of natural and social sciences to Croatian sports, movies, and music, just by coming to Croatia you won't regret it because you leave the country filled with knowledge that is cherished , appreciated and groomed in our beautiful country!